Section 001 - Term 1 - Th 2:00 - 5:00, Grad Room
Instructor: Kenneth Foster
In 1985 a group of political scientists and sociologists published a book that marked the rise of an intellectual movement to "bring the state back in" to political analysis. Although some questioned whether political scientists had ever stopped focusing on the state, this movement did lead to a renewed focus on states as consequential actors and as institutions that affect political outcomes. While some scholars focused on issues such as state autonomy and state capacity, others argued that states should be studied in a framework that highlights the interactions between states and the societies over which they rule. As the literature on states and state-society relations grew, research within this tradition increasingly focused on disaggregating states and on examining the variety of institutions that make up a "state".
This course offers an introduction to this research tradition and to a variety of major areas of research within it. Yet it also transcends this tradition and its literature by bringing in other strands of scholarship that are essential to achieving an adequate understanding of the nature of the modern state, its operation, and its interaction with society. Chief among these is that produced by scholars of bureaucracy and administration. While many works in comparative politics conceptualize the state at a high level of abstraction, those who study government administration get inside the "black box" of the state, offering an inside perspective on the functioning of the state and on the nature of governance.
Given the vastness of the subject identified in the course title, the course is necessarily only a partial exploration into how political scientists (mainly those in the field of comparative politics) and sociologists (to a lesser extent) have studied the state and the relationship between state and society. After several weeks examining various perspectives on the state and some important conceptual issues, the course will proceed through a series of topics: state-building and state decay, administrative reform, decentralization and federalism, sub-national government, the state's role in development, and the interaction between states and societal movements and groups. The readings for the course will focus primarily, but not exclusively, on the non-Western world. Thus the course will be especially useful for those students with an interest in countries other than the advanced industrialized democracies.